The STICK UP

Danger Tape has arrived to leave its mark on the visual arts environment. Since 2014, the dynamic duo of painter-printmaker Tony Rodrigues and photographer Roy Albert Berry has been curating indie, DIY-style shows, thus far at either Rain Dogs or Hawthorne Salon. Notable local visual artists, including Ryan Strasser, Sara Pedigo, Lily Kuonen and Rodrigues, have all been part of the featured programming.

While Rodrigues and Berry are hardly “anti-gallery,” they are sharp enough to realize that what constitutes an “art show” is wider than the accepted parameters of expected, formal venues like galleries and museums. The idea of presenting contemporary art in a non-conventional arena is hardly new. In the 1950s, some New York City abstract expressionists showed their works in bars (whether this was also due to the fact that more than one painter of that particular school was a raging alcoholic is an argument for the historians).

Rodrigues and Berry each have estimable creative careers in their own right. Longtime fixtures in the area scene, the pair have literal “hands-on” experience as trusted and experienced art handlers/installers. Their upcoming show, United States of Panda(Monium), featuring panda-inspired paintings by Hugo Bash, opens on Sept. 2 at Rain Dogs.

Folio Weekly Magazine fired off a few questions to the pair, to get their take on their motivations and views on the 904 arts climate.

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Folio Weekly Magazine: To what does the name Danger Tape allude?
Tony Rodrigues: Like a good band name, “Danger Tape” came after trying on a few monikers until finally hitting on “the one.” We were trying too hard and the answer was found on a curatorial tool cart at MOCA Jax. A roll of red plastic ribbon marked “DANGER” made the decision for us. It was gut-level.

Why does the world need Danger Tape?
T.R.: Well, “need” is a strong word. Maybe the world could be occasionally occupied by Danger Tape. We don’t necessarily have to conquer the universe or anything. For now, we’re concentrating on presenting some relevant pop-up shows to the areas, through our lens.

What are you specifically looking for when selecting artists and showing their work?
Roy Albert Berry: There are no hard and fast rules. Obviously, we have to like the work. It helps if the artist hasn’t shown in the area in a minute.
T.R.: Really believing in the artist and the quality of the work is what it’s all about. Ryan Strasser was an easy choice because there is a dichotomy of absurdity and weight in his paintings that we both appreciate. Sara Pedigo’s paintings are just so solid and understated. Lily Kuonen’s show was so fun to work with, playfuland really smart. My gig at Rain Dogs was kind of a gap-filler.

Considering your respective artistic careers and experience, I doubt that you started doing this on a lark. Do you feel as if Danger Tape has a certain philosophy or stance?
R.A.B.: It’s maybe part lark, part agenda. You know those people who become cynical from working behind the scenes of something? We are those guys. Once you work in a restaurant, it changes how you enjoy eating out — and that same concept applies to working with art.
T.R.: We haven’t been taking any commission from sales. So far, we’re just doing this for the glory.

So far, you’ve shown the work at a salon and a bar. Do you prefer these types of venues so you can forego the gallery scene altogether?
R.A.B.: Those types of places offer a decent space to show work with the added benefit of having lots of eyes passing through to hopefully make a sale or two. We’d like to think it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, giving the venue some extra foot traffic as well as a curated body of work. That being said, we’d jump at the chance to curate for a dedicated (affordable) gallery space, but that’s a unicorn here. We’re definitely not avoiding any scene specifically … I think Jax would need a gallery scene before we could choose to forego it.

Do you feel like you have any kind of long-term goal for this project?
R.A.B.: Maybe this is where the lark comes in because no, not especially. It would be great for it to play through to having a space specifically for showing work, but I’m not sure either of us are dreaming of running a gallery.
T.R.: This is sort of a transient gallery now. We would accept compensation from businesses or properties to curate for their spaces. (Crickets chirp.) Seriously, we are looking for spaces to work with.

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Danger Tape presents the opening reception for United States of Panda(Monium), featuring new paintings by Hugo Bash, at 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Rain Dogs., Riverside, facebook.com/danger-tape.

 

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